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Florida high school football team gives signed helmet to No. 1 fan

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> Andrew receives a great Christmas presentThis is wonderful. Wiregrass Ranch student Chris Faddoul and the Bulls football team gave their number one fan, Andrew, the Christmas present of a lifetime. They gave him an autographed football helmet from the team. Merry Christmas!Posted by Pasco County Schools on Friday, December 23, 2016

Ohio student with MD scores touchdown on senior night

An Ohio high school senior with muscular dystrophy scored a touchdown for the varsity football team Friday night while remaining in his wheelchair.

>> Read more trending stories

Connor Williams has been a special captain with the Valley View High School varsity football team in Germantown since his freshman year. Being confined to a wheelchair has never stopped his love of Spartans football.

Williams has served in several capacities for the football team, from water boy to team manager. Friday night was senior night, and he was given the chance to be a player.  After receiving a varsity letter and a football signed by the players and cheerleaders, Williams took a lateral from running back Collin Gensinger, who had caught a short pass from quarterback Collin Wood. Williams then piloted his wheelchair down the right sideline for a special touchdown.

“To be out there and get to do it with the other kids who have always treated him just like anybody else, it’s been great to him,” said Williams’ father, Ty. “I mean it’s just an honor.”

Williams’ mother, Kimberly, said Connor will stay in school until he’s 21 to continue his therapy and his education.

“I’m just beaming with joy,” she said. “I always wanted to see him on the field and luckily, we were able to do it. It was the best thing.”

Valley View improved to 9-1 Friday night, defeating Eaton 41-22 as the Spartans won their fifth straight game.

Black high school football player allegedly attacked with noose in Mississippi

The NAACP is calling for a federal investigation following an alleged noose attack at Stone County High School in Wiggins, Mississippi.

A black high school student said he was attacked by multiple students before football practice on Oct. 13. The white students reportedly placed a noose around the black student’s neck and “yanked backward,” according to ESPN.com. John Feaster, the football coach at Stone County, told ESPN.com that only one individual was involved in the incident – not a group – and that player is no longer with the team.

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However, Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, said the victim's parents have not been told of any disciplinary action taken against the students responsible.

The principal at Stone County and representatives from the school district declined to comment, but Feaster told ESPN that it’s “sad” there are still things like this happening in 2016.

“”Trust me. I understand. I’m an African-American male, and I was born and raised in Mississippi,” Feaster said. “It’s sad that something like this happens in 2016. I just pray we can get it together.”

(h/t Complex)

This is what football can do to a child's brain after just one season

The results of a new study may have some parents rethinking whether they allow their children to play football.

>> Watch the news report here

Three million children in the U.S. play in tackle football programs. While many doctors and scientists have taken a look at the impact of concussions, new research by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center studied the impact of less-serious blows to the head that are common during games.

The study included 25 players between the ages of 8 and 13 and was centered on a youth program in Winston-Salem, N.C. Each boy was outfitted with a helmet that measured the severity and frequency of head blows.

“This is important, particularly for children, because their brains are undergoing such rapid change, particularly in the age category from maybe 9 to 18. And we just don’t know a lot of about it,” Dr. Chris Whitlow, a lead researcher, told NBC News.

Researchers say their findings indicated that even at this young age, the boys were receiving pretty hard hits.

The doctors then performed MRIs on the players and determined there were some changes in the brain’s white matter, the tissue that connects the gray matter of the brain.

“We have detected some changes in the white matter,” Whitlow said. “And the importance of those changes is that the more exposure you have to head impacts, the more change you have.”

Young players who did not have concussions were also found to have been impacted by repeated hits. Brain changes were found even after a single season of playing the sport.

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So far, doctors are not cautioning parents against letting their children play football since there are still some unclear areas following the study. Doctors don’t know if these changes will continue as the boys play football. They also don’t know what long-term impact the repeated blows to the head will have on the players.

Still, some parents say the sport is worth the risk — for now — because of the joy it brings to their children. Football also encourages their kids to stay on top of their grades.

Kindra Ritzie-Worthy has two sons who play football. She says they take their footballs everywhere they go. One even sleeps with his ball.

“Worth the risk?” she told NBC. “I say absolutely.”

The study is published in the journal Radiology.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh names homecoming queen during recruiting trip

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh kept busy during the Wolverines’ bye week — he announced the homecoming queen at a California high school game.

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ESPN reported that Harbaugh was on a recruiting trip at Antioch High School to see highly recruited running back Najee Harris, who is committed to Alabama. 

Harbaugh attended Antioch’s homecoming game against Liberty High School, and school officials asked him to announce the homecoming queen at halftime, ESPN reported.

Harbaugh called the name of Tatiana Mendez as the crowd roared.

Harbaugh said he'd never been asked to handle the microphone during a recruiting visit.

"That was an all-time first for me," Harbaugh told ESPN. "That was really cool." 

Special needs student in Utah scores touchdown

A special needs student in Utah got to live an athletic dream on Thursday night, scoring a touchdown on the second-half kickoff for his high school football team.

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Brian Herrera attends Cottonwood High School in Murray, located in suburban Salt Lake City. He is a special needs student and has known senior Alex Hart since the pair attended junior high school.

"I'd say, 'What's up dude?' and I'd fist bump him," Hart told KSTU.

Hart and Herrera reconnected in high school and the two friends would have lunch together. They found a special connection through football. Hart is an offensive lineman for the Cottonwood Colts varsity football team.

"Every time I come off the field, I'd come off and he'd give me a hug," Hart told KSTU.

Hart went to Kailee Sandberg, Herrera’s special needs teacher, and asked if Brian could join a football class and roam the sidelines during games.

"He seems to be doing better socially, his speech is coming along better, he just is all around a happier kid, which I didn't think he could get any happier but he did," Sandberg told KSTU.

Best TD of the night! Thanks @C_WoodFootball and @TaylorsvilleHS for making this possible for Brian! #TribPreps @trevorphibbs @adonsports pic.twitter.com/KOMZECYn9u— Robyn Ivins (@partymomof5) October 14, 2016 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Thursday night, Cottonwood (1-9) played neighboring Taylorsville (3-6). The Warriors agreed to cooperate with the Colts, and leading 35-7 at the intermission, kicked the ball to Herrera to open the second half. Hart, who had been injured, came into the game for the one play and helped create a convoy for Herrera to score.

"He's just been my biggest fan, and I've been his biggest fan," Hart told KSTU.

It didn't matter that Cottonwood lost 49-14. The real winners were Hart, Herrera, and both squads.

Does it get any better than this?!? Things like this make us proud to be Colts! #ColtsAreGreat pic.twitter.com/yiErnya2fa— Cottonwood High (@CottonwoodHS) October 14, 2016 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Kenton Ridge vs. Shawnee

Powerful Washington high school football team strikes fear in opponents

In the world of Friday night lights and high school football, is it possible for one team to be too good?

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In Everett, Washington, one powerhouse team outscored its opponents 170-0 in its first three football games this season. Now other conference opponents would rather forfeit than get pummeled by Archbishop Murphy High School’s team. 

"There's still unknowns. … We don't know what's going to happen next week," said Jerry Jensen, the school's athletic director.  

But parents of some players at Cedar Park Christian High won't allow them to face the much bigger, stronger Archbishop Murphy, which is the next game on the schedule. Some wrote emails saying such things as, "We are in agreement that to play Archbishop Murphy would compromise the best interest and safety of the players and be demoralizing by the certain and devastating defeat." 

Another wrote, "Football is a dangerous sport; however, this is an extreme and unnecessary risk that you are putting our sons in." 

Some were even upset that the school didn't forfeit immediately, saying, "Please know that we will not be allowing our sons to suit up for the Archbishop game next Friday the 14th." 

Joey Johnson, the athletic director at nearby Granite Falls High School, also skipped out on a game against Archbishop Murphy.  

"We made a decision based on the health and welfare of our kids," Johnson said.   

Stacey Morris, a parent of one of the players, agreed with the decision.

"We can't put our 5-foot-8, 125-pound quarterback up against their nose tackle who happens to be 6 feet 5 inches and weighs over 330 pounds. He's going to put that kid in the hospital," she said. 

Archbishop Murphy is loaded with big Division 1 college recruits like 6-foot-8, 265-pound junior Abe Lucas. 

"I'm just ready to get back on the field and start playing again with all my boys," Lucas said. 

Fellow Archbishop Murphy player Jackson Yost agreed. 

"We can't focus on what other schools do, and we just have to focus on what we need to do to prepare for the next upcoming game," he said.

Springfield vs. Lebanon

Shawnee vs. Clinton-Massie

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